Top Tips On How To Be Hip, Today, With It, Now and Outasite!

I was not one of the cool kids when I was in High School in the 70s. I had some great friends (being a band geek has its benefits), but I was not part of the in-crowd.

I didn’t wear cool clothes (unless Snoopy T-shirts and corduroy pants count as cool).

I didn’t drive a cool car (but I shared a 65 Chevy II with my sisters).

I didn’t have a cool job (although I delivered papers through my first two years of HS).

One thing my friends and I did do, though, was joke around as if we were cool. Every stereotype of the cool crowd was at our disposal. We were hilarious, trust me. And if all else failed, we’d assure each other of our certain uber-cool existence with this compliment of awesomeness: You are hip, today, with it, now and outasite!

Why yes I am, thank you.

Staying Out Of Step

All of this came to mind in a discussion at Scribblepreach the other day. Nick listed some of Orson Welles’s insights on creativity, one of which said:

“I passionately hate the idea of being with it, I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.”

Being with it. Being cool and up to date. Being with the in-crowd.

Doing whatever it takes to get with it. Doing whatever it takes not to be out of date. Doing whatever it takes to avoid being outside the inner ring.

No one wants to be on the outside looking in, do they?

I do.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2.)

The pattern of this world is the pattern of conforming to everyone’s expectations. Whether it’s being part of the in-crowd, or living up to your family’s expectations, or dressing like you stepped off the cover of GQ or Vogue, that’s the world’s pattern.

That’s not us. That’s not the way things are in the kingdom of God. Instead, we are to adopt a new way of thinking, a transformation that comes from a renewing of the mind.

It’s a Spirit-led transformation, one that does lead to conforming, but in a radical manner that few on earth have ever called cool.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29.)

If you belong to Jesus, your destiny in God is determined: you are to be conformed to the image of Jesus himself. That will mean you are out of step with the world’s values, its standard of coolness.

But inside the kingdom of God? Inside God’s ingdom you’re hip today, with it, now and outasite.

Cool.

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How to Apply the Haddon Robinson Principle in Your Preaching

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted on the “Haddon Robinson principle”: Preach with a pin, not with a hammer. In other words, preach one single point, not a list of points. This raised a few questions regarding application. After all, preaching one point is much easier said than done (unless your preaching it, I guess…). So, here are some suggestions for honing the one-point preaching method and practicing it:

  • Let your one point be image rich. Use some picture from the story/homily you’re preaching on and incorporate it into your main phrase.
  • Make sure your main point has an indicative (a motivation behind the behavior) and an imperative (a command to do something). My absolute favorite phrase to use in preaching, ala Tim Keller, is: “If you really believed _______, you would ________.” Of course, there’s a mess of (good) doctrine behind that style of preaching you might not endorse, but more on that later.
  • Start a Twitter account. I know that seems like a hokey suggestion, but seriously, learning to come up with condensed, helpful phrases under 140 characters is an art that ought to be mastered by preachers
  • Make your main point as succinct as possible. Cut out the unnecessary words, and use only the words that serve a crucial function.
  • At the same time, don’t make your main point too dense – resist the temptation to eliminate unnecessary words by replacing them with theological terms (like sanctification or, superlapsarianism!). Try to use as simple language as possible while still keeping it brief.
  • Try to think in terms of the author’s main point. If you were to sit down with the author and ask them to sum up in a sentence what they were trying to get at, what do you think they would say?
  • Think in terms of the BIG picture –the Holy Spirit put that text where it is for a purpose in the WHOLE canon. Don’t dissect your text from the rest of the Bible – the point of Numbers 25 (the passage I preached on Sunday) isn’t: “Kill Moabite women”. We need to look at that text in light of how the Holy Spirit illumines it throughout the Bible and preach our main point in accordance with this.

 

 

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A Glimpse of Truth: Gilead

“There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be, because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable of an embracing, incomprehensible reality. It makes no sense at all because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal. So how could it subordinate itself to cause or consequence?”
-Marilynne Robinson

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7 Steps Anyone can Take to Lead.

    A few weeks ago, David Murray posted on the #1 reason pastors are fired in their first year of ministry: a lack of EQ (Emotional Quotient – or, “peopleability”).  Well, I’ll be the first to admit I have a hard time in this area; I tend to focus on teaching and preaching to the exclusion of smart leadership. But the beauty of being a Geek is this: we can be good at just about anything. Why? Simple: research.

I’ve actually been reading on leadership for a long time (since high-school…don’t ask me why), but I’ve always found it difficult to apply the things I read because A.) They’re too corporate. So many leadership books seem more about “management”, not about how to live day to day as a leader no matter who you are. B.) They’re too complicated. Dale Carnegie’s books and many like them are just too complex – too many principles to memorize, and to be honest, not enough reason behind the rhyme.  Or C.) They’re too conjectural.  All theory, and not a lot of practice.

So, I decided a few weeks ago to try and organize many of the ideas I’ve found in dozens of leadership books, especially the consistent ideas, into something simple and doable for me: a 7 step cycle of leadership. The reason I like it is because: 1.) It works for anyone. You don’t have to be a CEO to apply these; you can be a high-schooler. 2.) I don’t have to juggle a bunch of principles in my head at once. Since these are steps, I only have to focus on one at a time. And 3.) It’s practical. About as practical as it gets.

So, here it is – the 7 step cycle of leadership for anyone. Think of them as “skills” or “steps” if you want. Think of them as relationship principles or leadership principles; I don’t care. They’re the same thing. The one thing you’ll find in nearly every leadership book is that leadership is about relationships. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. These certainly aren’t everything one needs to know about leadership; but I believe they are the basics. So, here they are, in all their glory:

1. Greeting. Leadership begins at “hello”. Good greeting isn’t just a smart way to lead – it’s actually a biblical command: “Greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16)” When I choose not to greet you, I choose not to lead you. Period. Greeting is an important part of leadership, because it says: “I see you and take an interest in you; I’m willing to take time to get to know you.” Here are some things you can do to greet well:

  • Use touch. Maybe not a holy kiss. But maybe a holy handshake.
  • Say people’s names. It helps them to know they’re not just a random face to connect with in a crowd. You want to take specifically to THEM.
  • Use body language. Smile. Do you make eye contact? Do you open your hands, stop what you’re doing and turn toward the other person?

2. Listening. Listening is such a key leadership skill, whether you’re negotiating, casting a vision, or simply having a conversation. If you want people to be interested in what you have to say, be interested in them. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Ask open ended questions. Don’t ask question with a “yes” or “no” answer. Ask what people dream about, what they worry about, who they care about.
  • Nod and verbally affirm others when they’re talking.
  • Repeat back to them what was said the way you understand it. “So you’re feeling _____ because of ______.”
  • When casting vision, or debating, or butting heads of some kind, always repeat what your “opponent” is saying back to them in a way that satisfies them before responding. You’d be amazed at how the level of collaboration and respect amps up in the room.
  • Make and keep eye-contact – it’s hard for some of us, but refusing eye-contact communicates shadiness and a lack of attention.

3. Affirming. It’s easier to criticize than affirm. Personally, I have to work very hard to affirm others in conversation. But encouragement does literally that – it gives courage to people. When people see that you believe in them, they’re on your side. When they know you see their good side, they’re more likely to listen when you see their bad side; more likely to trust that you have their good in mind. Affirming is better than criticizing because while there are 1,000 ways to do something wrong, often there are only a few ways to do something right. When we hear criticism, we can still be lost in the plethora of options; when we hear praise, we can move forward confident we’re on the right track. Here are some ways to affirm others:

  • Affirm deep things more often than shallows things (Like, “Wow, you really took a stand in that situation, good for you…not, “Nice cardigan!”)
  • Written affirmation often means more than spoken affirmation. Write a letter or an e-mail; people will remember it longer.
  • Remember the 10 second rule: if someone just did something they were nervous about (like speaking in public), they need affirmation within the first 10 seconds of finishing.
  • Affirm especially when you don’t want to affirm. If you’re jealous of someone’s ability, it’s amazing how verbally affirming them can change your own attitude.

4. Remembering.  Remembering is such a key leadership skill that’s often neglected from mention in leadership/relationship books and talks. Remembering what people say is a huge investment in a relationship. The reason why names are so important is that they’re often a testing ground – “Do you care enough about this relationship to remember our first conversation?” If you remember someone’s name, you’ve just invested in their life. When you remember what people dream about, worry about, and care about, you’re going out of your way to instill that person in your heart; a rare gift in a busy world. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Remember people’s names. Remember people’s names. Remember people’s names.
  • Keep a “people journal”, and keep track of all the hobbies, activities and interests you hear people talk about.
  • Keep a prayer list – praying for people’s problems isn’t just a good way to remember what they care about, it’s often the best way to help.
  • Next time you see someone, bring up something you remember from your last conversation. It’s amazing how people will light up and warm to you.
  • Tell people you’ll do something for them…and then DO IT!

5. Sharing. I like the word “sharing” instead of “giving” or “generosity” because sharing assumes we live in a world of plenty. God will give me what I need; so when I give something “away” I’m not losing anything. Having an attitude of “sharing” is a climactic way to further steps 1-4; it requires that we stop, listen, remember, etc. Here are some examples:

  • When you read books or articles, think of the people who could relate to and resonate with what you’re learning. What a great way to do ministry!
  • Take an inventory of all the talents and services you’re connected with – either through the online world, your church, or your workplace. Even when you don’t know how to help someone, you can often-times think of someone who does.
  • Bring up food in your conversations…sounds weird, but it gives you a nice way to use your lunch hour – “Hey, we both like Panda Express. Want to go tomorrow?” To me, it’s more natural to spend time with others when there is a mutual connection, even if it’s just kung-pow chicken.
  • Think of the things you do during the week that you can share with others – working out at the gym, having a pizza night with the family, golfing, etc. When we stop thinking of “giving up” our time for others, and start thinking of “sharing” our time, we find 100 little ways to invest in others during the day.

6. Asking. Recent studies have shown that generous people fall on one of two ends of the success spectrum – the lowest and the highest. The “takers” fall in the middle. Why? Some great leaders fail to ask. Some of us freely exercise steps 1-5, but never let them climax in asking people to help you accomplish our vision. Asking is powerful; it’s actually a compliment to say, “I need you to do something only you can do.” (Ben Franklin was famous for turning his enemies into friends by asking them for favors). Here are some ways to ask well:

  • Ask strategically. Know what people are good at; know what makes them excited and makes them tick. Ask them to do things they enjoy, not busy work. Also, don’t assume that everything you don’t enjoy others won’t enjoy…some people love what you consider to be “busy work”.
  • Write down your expectations of others. It can be awkward when others don’t fulfill what they’re asked to do…the best way to solve this is to take the blame as the leader and clarify expectations. People know when it’s a matter of clarity or a matter of irresponsibility.
  • If you have a deadline in mind, give it.
  • Don’t tell people how to do things unless they ask. Just hand it off, clarify the vision and expectations, and meet from time to time to check up on it. Allow them to help with the vision; don’t just impose your ideas into them, especially if you’re working with an area you’re not so talented in. If the scales are really tipped, let them cast the vision while you listen and make small adjustments (for example, I asked a couple to coordinate a youth Easter breakfast a few weeks ago, and they ran with it…It wasn’t my forte’, so the best thing I did was get out of the way!)
  • Ask. I know that seems obvious, but really ask someone, and ask boldly. “Would you be willing to ______?” Don’t be afraid to ask for big favors. I’m always surprised at people’s generosity.

7. Reconciling. Finally, if you’re going to be a leader, your mistakes will be on display. You need to learn to apologize when you neglect steps 1-6. Here’s how:

  • Don’t say, “I’m sorry”. Ask for forgiveness.
  • Don’t say, “I’m sorry you feel this way”. That’s not an apology.
  • If there’s a misunderstanding, ask for forgiveness but clarify your intentions as well. It’s not doing your relationship any favors to say “I’m sorry” while leaving the other person under the impression you really intended to harm them. If it’s a mis-communication, say so. But ask for forgiveness as well.

So, where do you start? I suggest choosing the category you’re weakest in and strategically practice it for 6 weeks (as long as it takes to form a habit). Then perhaps choose one of your strongest categories, and sharpen it for the same length of time. Do this, and you’ll have formed a great habit in all the above categories in under a year. Now rinse and repeat.

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How to Write Like Orson Welles

According to Welles:

1. “The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.”

2. “I passionately hate the idea of being with it, I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.”

3. “A good artist should be isolated. If he isn’t isolated, something is wrong.”

4. “I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That’s what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act.”

5. “I can think of nothing that an audience won’t understand. The only problem is to interest them; once they are interested, they understand anything in the world.”

6. “Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”

 

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34 Books that Influenced C.S. Lewis

Last week I posted a series of writing tips courtesy of Bob Dylan. One piece of advice that struck me was his admonition not just to listen to your favorite artists, but also to listen to what they listened to. Since I have a lot of C.S. Lewis fans, I thought I’d share from my research in Oxford some of his favorite writings, as stated by himself in a 1962 issue of “The Christian Century”, an interview at the end of his life, and from what I’ve gleaned in studying him over the years. Here 10 basics, and then 24 more:

1. Phantastes. The book that “baptized his imagination”. C.S. Lewis came to see George MacDonald as a spiritual mentor, as seen clearly in the Great Divorce. Lewis said “Phantastes” was his favorite book. It may be mine as well. Weird, yes – but deep, engaging and profound as well.

2. Paradise Lost. Lewis was criticized for his defense of the evil nature of Satan in Milton’s work; he may have been wrong on this one, but he considered Paradise Lost a key work of Christian literature.

3. The Wind in the Willows. Lewis describes his experience reading the Wind in the Willows at a young age as the first time he felt the insatiable desire “nothing in this world could satisfy”.

3. The Aeneid. Lewis was an expert in Classical writing, and the Aeneid was his favorite. If you’ve only read “The Odyssey”, give the Aeneid a try.

4. The Everlasting Man. G.K. Chesterton’s philosophy was profoundly influential in C.S. Lewis’s life. He credits “The Everlasting Man” as being one of his favorite books multiple times in life.

5. The Man Born to Be King. Dorothy Sayers was a friend and mentor of Lewis’s, and her plays, especially “The Man Born to Be King” resonated with him on both a literary and intellectual level.

6. Pilgrim’s Progress. Lewis diverts from Tolkien, here. He considered “Pilgrim’s Progress” a great and profound work, while Tolkien disdained it for its strict allegory. We can see how this played out in their fiction writing.

7. Jane Austen’s work. Lewis doesn’t mention her too much, but Austen’s literary critique of high-brow English society from an arguably Christian perspective worked its way through Lewis’s life.  He verbalized his appreciation in “the Christian Century”.

8. The Faerie Queen. Perhaps the first “Christian fantasy” book ever written, The Faerie Queen was influential in George MacDonald’s work and had a subsequent effect on the work of Lewis.

9. Confessions. Augustine was theologically massive in Lewis’s life. Read Augustine, and you’ll better understand where Lewis’s theological ideas stem from, especially his ideas concerning the trinity.

10. The Bible. After becoming a Christian, Lewis read the Bible most every day. You can’t understand Lewis unless you’re intimately familiar with this book

These ten are pretty foundational to understanding Lewis, especially in a literary sense.  Most are pretty approachable. Here are some others Lewis mentions in his writing and in the aforementioned articles. Tread if you dare:

11. The Divine Comedy.

12. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

13. Tolstoy’s Work.

14. Beowulf

15. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

16. The Temple by George Herbert

17. The Prelude by William Wordsworth

18. The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto

19. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

20. Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

21. Descent into Hell by Charles Williams

22. Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour

23. Centuries of Meditations by Thomas Traherne

24. He Came Down from heaven by Charles Williams

25. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

26. Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales

27. The Sermon on the Mount by Charles Gore

28. Philosophy of the Good Life by Charles Gore

29. Smoke on the Mountains by Joy Davidman

30. Theologia Germanica

31. Works by Scott

32. Works by Trollope

33. “An Appeal” by William Law

34. “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life” by William Law.

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The Heath Brothers Principle: How to Captivate a Congregation with Your First Words.

Technically, there’s not one correct way to start a sermon. There are a variety of ways it can be done – pull out a great quote, tell a joke, read something from the local paper, begin with a story from history, etc. In fact, I’ve spent hours listening to folks describe a variety of ways to introduce a message. No, there’s no right way. But I do believe there is a best way.

There is a way to introduce a sermon that simultaneously relaxes you and your audience. There’s a way to simultaneously build credibility while honing in on the point you’re making. There’s a way to enable people to instantly let down their guard and really listen to what you’re saying, and it’s this: Start with a story. You’ll notice this principle doesn’t come from a preacher, but from two Harvard Professors: Chip and Dan Heath, the authors of the best-selling book, “Made to Stick”. The book is a concisely communicated compilation of compelling research regarding communication (sorry, on a role there).  They unpack years and years of careful research focused on ideas that “stick” – ideas that don’t fade away, but successfully migrate through culture at explosive speed, then stick with us.

One of the key principles they discovered was that for the average communicator, starting any presentation with a story about themselves was the single most effective introduction technique for “sticky” communication (by the way, plenty of preachers use this technique, too; including many of the sharpest missional minds in the world. I just want you to read the Heath brother’s book). Here’s why:

1. A personal story relaxes you. To be honest, this is the number one reason I start with a story: it relaxes me. When I tell a story from my own life, I’m able to forget that I’m standing in front of a group of people evaluating me. As I dwell on my memory – something I’m intimate and familiar with; something that I am the best authority in the room to cover – I start to bridge in my own mind the gap between the congregation and myself. When I start to talk about myself, I begin to feel akin with my audience as I share who I am; everything after this comes more naturally.

2. A personal story engages people. Nothing is more engaging than a story. As I sit here in a coffee shop, my mind just migrated to the table next to me. I literally have heard nothing else the guy next to me has said, but my subconscious caught these words: “Let me tell you a story…” I couldn’t help it. I had to stop typing and listen. That’s the power of story. We are pre-wired for story; I’d go even so far as to say it’s the way God wired us to learn and change. Jesus filled his ministry with his stories; the Bible itself is almost all story. If you want to lock all eyes on you from moment one, tell a personal story.

3. A personal story relaxes visitors. If you want your sermons to preach to lost folks, you’ve got to get in the habit of putting yourself in their shoes. Remember, unbelievers don’t feel as comfortable as everyone else sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. They’re self-conscious. But you can do something about that: tell them about yourself. Suddenly, the atmosphere changes. If you want to relax people who are visiting for the first time, telling a personal story is possibly the best way to do it.

4. A personal story lowers defenses. When we read most people’s opinions of the church, a couple of the top items on the list are: “judgmental” and “hypocritical”.  When someone comes to church for the first time, they’re not expecting you to be humble; they’re expecting you to be judgmental. Very religious folks will expect you to be above them; to be removed from all human experience. Everyone expects you to be a prideful bigot. But telling a personal story communicates something radically different: “I have a normal life; I have problems; I embrace human experience, and I’m not trying to hide it.” Telling a personal story, simply put, allows people to let their guard down.

5. A personal story communicates practicality. Some people don’t agree we ought to flash the “cash value” of sermons in practical terms; others don’t think it matters. I’m not going to try to defend being practical in sermons, but I will say this: no matter what you’re preaching, whether it’s a theological point or a practical application or both, there are daily consequences for not believing or practicing it. When was the last time you thought of your main preaching point negatively – “What does it look like, feel like, sound like not to believe this?” Stories can answer all three questions. They can put clothes on the central problem your sermon is addressing (and at the very least, your sermon should address SOME central problem common to humanity). People allow themselves to see themselves most clearly through stories about others (think David and the prophet Nathan). When you can tell a story others see themselves in, they subconsciously think: “Hey, this guy is like me. He can relate to my problems, my life. I see myself in that experience, and I want to hear more.”

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A Glimpse of Truth: Crash

“It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

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6 Ways to Understand the New Testament Use of the Old Tesament

Have you ever read Matthew, Paul or another NT writer quoting the OT in a way that made you scratch your head? “Maybe if I look it up, it will help”. You look up the reference, and…it’s even worse. The writer seems to take the quote totally out of context. The Bible wasn’t prophesying JESUS would come out of Nazareth, was it? Isaiah wasn’t talking about MARY when it referred to the virgin who would bear a child, was it? And what in the world is Paul doing using Hagar as an allegorical figure for ancient Israel? Were all these men misguidedly stretching texts to fit their theological purposes?

While that’s a possibility, I think it’s a lazy intellectual alternative. I’d like to borrow from G.K. Beale’s “Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament” to offer six theological and biblical assumptions the NT authors make that will shed some light on the thought process behind the sometimes puzzling interweaving of the OT in the New (sometime soon I’ll write a follow-up on specific ways the NT uses the OT):

1. The OT writing is sacred. I wonder if some of the criticism of the NT use of the OT stems from a subconscious assumption that scripture isn’t actually divinely orchestrated. Without this, no quotation of the OT will make sense. Because the OT is God’s word, without the Holy Spirit, there is no understanding the NT use of the OT.

2. Corporate Solidarity. This is a confusing term for us individualistic Americans. So, rather than take the fire myself, I’ll let Walter Kaiser define it: “…[by corporate solidarity] I don’t mean corporate personality. Rather, what I mean is something we can see in the business world of our culture; we can see illustrations of what was meant in Near Eastern culture. In business law, a fictional person is created so that corporations are treated as single individuals. For example, if you buy a ‘lemon’ from one of the Detroit auto makers, you will try to solve the problem through legitimate channels – complaining, talking, pleading, praying – with the car dealer. But if, eventually, you don’t get satisfaction, you will take the company to court. Your court case will read, ‘[Your name] versus GMAC.’ For the purposes of that court case, a legal fiction will be created in which all of General Motors Corporation is treated as one individual versus you, one individual. For the duration of the trial the whole company is treated as if it were a single person, even though behind it is a management team, and behind that is probably a board of directors, and behind that are employees by the thousands, and behind them are stock-holders. That is what is meant by corporate solidarity, in which the whole group is represented by one.”

3. Christ is the corporate head of the true Israel in the OT and NT. Jesus is the legal head of the true Israel of the OT and the church – the true Israel of the NT. Adam is the legal corporate head of the rest of humanity. We bristle against these truths (actually, Christians still bristle over Adam being our corporate head, but we’re fine with Jesus being our corporate head!), but in order to understand the New Testament, we must understand this essential assumption of its authors.

4. God’s history is united. The NT assumes that there are two true authors behind every text and historical event: 1.) The man who wrote it truly wrote it, with his own style, background and perspective. The historical characters really, genuinely acted according to their wills. 2.) God also fully wrote the text, and at times, God has things in mind the authors of the OT don’t. Not only this, but the NT assumes that God sovereignly orchestrated the events and personalities of the OT in order to correspond to the later parts of the story He is telling. This is the story of the people of Israel, but it is also God’s story – he designed it from the beginning, and each part has meaning and purpose (see Matt 5:17, 11:13, 13:16-17). Each person, each story, each event is divinely designed to point to the climactic later events. So is this God’s story or theirs? Yes.

5. The age of fulfillment has come. When Paul says these are the “last days” he really means it. Paul and the other NT writers assume that everything the OT foreshadowed and spoke about was fulfilled in Christ. This age, the age of Jesus, is the point. We can now look back at the OT and see what it all meant, for the grand narrative has reached its climax. Like reading any brilliant story, we reach the end and realize every single detail was purposefully placed to this end – we can now re-read the story in a new light. Things that made little sense before suddenly shine with clarity. Every portion that seemed to be poorly written or purposeless suddenly jumps out as a meaningful, ingenious addition to the beautifully interwoven story.

6. Christ is the goal. Because this is the age of fulfillment, Christ is the key to interpreting all of the OT. The Bible is not full of heroes, but of one hero – Jesus Christ. He is the only hero of every OT story. No faithful man of the OT fully succeeds as Christ does; no king, no prophet, no priest could accomplish what He could accomplish. Some foreshadow him by contrast, some by similarity, but every biblical character, every story, is about one thing: Jesus Christ.

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Bob Dylan: 11 Writing Tips.

1. “It is only natural to pattern yourself after someone. If I wanted to be a painter, I might think about trying to be like Van Gogh, or if I was an actor, act like Laurence Olivier. If I was an architect, there’s Frank Gehry. But you can’t just copy someone. If you like someone’s work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to. Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years.”

2. “You can go anywhere in daily life and have your ears open and hear something, either something someone says to you or something you hear across the room. If it has resonance, you can use it in a song.”

3. “That’s another way of writing a song, of course. Just talking to somebody who ain’t there. That’s the best way. That’s the truest way.”

4. “Creativity is like a freight train going down the tracks. It’s something that has to be caressed and treated with a great deal of respect…you’ve got to program your brain not to think too much.”

5. “Let’s face it. You’re either serious about what you’re doing or you’re not serious about what you’re doing. And you can’t mix the two.”

6. “The environment to write the song is extremely important. It has to bring something out in me that wants to be brought out. It’s a contemplative, reflective thing.”

7. “It’s not a good idea and it’s bad luck to look for life’s guidance to popular entertainers. It’s bad luck to do that. No one should do that. Popular entertainers are fine, there’s nothing the matter with that but as long as you know where you’re standing and what ground you’re on, many of them, they don’t know what they’re doing either.”

8. “The best songs to me — my best songs — are songs which were written very quickly. Yeah, very, very quickly. Just about as much time as it takes to write it down is about as long as it takes to write it.”

9. “In my mind it’s never really been seriously a profession… It’s been more confessional than professional.”

10. “It is the first line that gives the inspiration and then it’s like riding a bull. Either you just stick with it, or you don’t. (Bob Dylan)”

11. I couldn’t find the quote, but my writing professor in Oxford once told me Dylan always tried to take a classical story and add something totally unexpected to it. For example, in his song “As I went out one morning” Dylan takes the “Damsel in Distress” tale and adds his own twist – the Damsel is a prostitute. I’ll give 10 cents to whoever can track that quote down.

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